Bert Meyers was born Bertram Ivan Meyers in Los Angeles on March 20, 1928. The son of Romanian and Polish Jewish immigrants, he maintained strong lifelong ties to his Jewish cultural heritage without being religious. Always rebellious and a questioner of authority, he decided to drop out of high school and become a poet.
For many years he worked at manual labor jobs, including janitor, farmer worker, house painter, and printer’s apprentice, until he became a master picture framer and gilder. Here he finally found some satisfaction in the process of craftsmanship and attention to detail, the same approach he used in composing his poetry. Throughout these years he continued to write, feeling that a poet should be immersed in the world, not ensconced in academia, and should have real world things to write about. As he wrote in his journals “I worked for more than fifteen years at various kinds of manual labor and during that time I met many men and women who could see and speak as poetically as those who are glorified by the printing press and the universities.”
Meyers wanted to be self-taught. He read everything he could get his hands on and had a prodigious literary memory. He frequented the vibrant circles of LA poets at the time, with Thomas McGrath among others. Fiercely independent and nonconforming he strove to find his own path. In the words of his fellow poet and friend Robert Mezey, “Bert Meyers belonged to no school or coterie and had no use for fashion. He was that rarest of creatures, a pure lyric poet. His poems are very much what he was – gentle, cantankerous, reflective, passionate and wise.”
During the late 40s and 50s he was involved with the communist youth in Los Angeles. His idealism and belief in people drew him towards various causes for the rest of his life, from civil rights to the anti-Vietnam War movement. Though never dogmatic, or overtly political, his poems are full humanistic belief and philosophy.